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Extend twister aid, governor asks U.S.

by The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette | May 8, 2023 at 6:13 a.m.
Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders converses with legislators after giving remarks on her 100th day in office Wednesday at the Arkansas Governors Mansion in Little Rock. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Staci Vandagriff)

Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders said on Friday she has requested a 30-day extension to the 100% federal cost share for state and local resources spent on debris cleanup and emergency protective measures in Pulaski, Lonoke and Cross counties, the three areas most affected by March 31 tornadoes.

On April 5, President Joe Biden accepted Sanders' request to pay for 100% of the recovery effort after previously agreeing to foot 75% of the bill earlier, for 30 days. State leaders could choose any 30-day period within 120 days after the disaster occurred to draw on the funding, according to the White House.

Sanders said in a news release issued from her office that, as that time period's ending date approaches, "affected communities continue to face severe cost burdens" to replace lost structures and infrastructure.

She said that "Arkansans are still struggling" and that an extension of the cost share agreement by an additional 30 days will "help Arkansas get back on its feet."

According to Arkansas' Congressional delegation, the estimated total in the counties for debris cleanup is $24,817,600 and the estimated total Emergency Protective Measures is $15,635,000.

"In Wynne alone, the two categories are estimated at $21,700,000," according to a letter in support of Sanders' request for the extension, signed by U.S. Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton as well as Congressmen Rick Crawford, French Hill, Steve Womack and Bruce Westerman, who make up the Arkansas delegation.

Sanders declared a state of emergency on March 31. A tornado -- rated EF3 with 165 mph peak winds -- tracked more than 30 miles from west Little Rock through North Little Rock, Sherwood and Jacksonville in Pulaski County before finally weakening on the southeast side of Cabot in Lonoke County, according to the National Weather Service. There was one fatality associated with the tornado.

Farther east, according to the weather service, a separate supercell spawned a tornado rated at least EF3 "that carved a path through Wynne" in Cross County. At least four people died.

Print Headline: Extend twister aid, governor asks U.S.


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